Welcome to episode 3 of the 2020 Cleveland Browns High School Game of the Week "Inside the Hudl".
The High School Game of the Week is presented by Ohio CAT and in association with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and Raising Cane's.
Our week 3 winner is the Lake Catholic Cougars who defeated the Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Lions 42-35 in Friday night's North Coast League conference matchup.
This week we met with Coach Marty Gibbons, Head Coach for the Cougars.
Congratulations again. Now let's go "Inside the Hudl" where we'll discuss top plays from last night's game.
- Cleveland Browns: Coach, you played against your rival Friday night. Tell us a bit about the Lake Catholic/NDCL rivalry.
Coach Gibbons: Two catholic schools on the east side of Cleveland. Very competitive. A lot of the kids are coming from the similar schools, similar situations. Since the inception of NDCL. I've been around Lake Catholic since I was born in 1992. My dad was the head coach at Lake Catholic at that point. I know just from growing up how the rivalry was so big in the 90's. The biggest thing is the common ground these kids have. They either came from similar grade schools, end up being very close friends throughout college. That's really the biggest thing. Throughout the last thirty years, because there are so many adults with common backgrounds and their kids may be playing. That's what make it an intense rivalry and a fun one to be a part of.
- Browns: You're a graduate of Lake Catholic, what's the difference between coaching and playing in the rivalry?
Coach: Yes, I graduated in 2011 from Lake Catholic. Played in this game all four years. At the varsity level, they beat us our freshman and sophomore years. We were able to come out with a "W" during our junior and senior years. It's always an intense rivalry and a lot of fun.
It's a lot more fun when you're a player. When you're coaching in it, it's a lot less that you can control. For the most part, it's just a fun game to be a part of. Great energy around it and really, as a player or a coach, it comes down to execution and having fun playing the game. It's 11 versus 11 at the end of the day. That's really the best part of all of it. It's more for other people on the outside, rivalry on the inside. It's about getting better week to week for us.
- Browns: Notre Dame returned the opening kickoff for the touchdown, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead – what are you telling your team after that play?
Coach: Especially with rivalry games and heightened emotions, it's so much of trying to get our team to live in the current moment. Put the past one behind you – be in the current moment. Don't look ahead at anything. Don't worry about the score on the scoreboard at all. Play the play that's in front of you. That's really been the mindset for us all the time.
At that point, I thought our kids did respond to it well. There wasn't any doubt in our minds, or our heads at all. Our coaches did a tremendous job commanding that leadership that we needed to have from our coaches as well.
- Browns: Bad snap and a block punt would set up your first touchdown of the day. Can you take us through this play? Give the fullback some love.
Coach: When we get down in the goal line area, I don't think it's really a question to ourselves or to our opponent what's going to happen. We want to get in the Stack-I and finish this drive. There's a song called "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes, it's a rock song we play at practice when we practice the Stacked-I. For us it's a mindset. When you get down there, the field is shrunk, so for us we need to run the football and finish the drive with not only our quarterback as a threat, but all our backs. The offensive line finishing the drive out. That was the mindset going into this year.
We are putting the ball in a really good player's hand, Ryan Joy (33). It was a great play for him. When you are going into critical situations, you want to think about your players in that play. Getting him the ball in the situation behind a good offensive line is really what we are looking to do.
- Browns: Let's fast forward to the second half where fun began! Down 21-15 at half, what was your message to your team at halftime?
Coach: Biggest thing was don't ride the wave of emotion. Come out with a smooth mindset, being nice and focused on the play that you are in, not letting the emotions of the game and the ups and downs take control. Be in control of your effort and energy on every single play. That was our message as a staff and the players are used to it, hearing it from us. They did a great job responding to it. We talk so much about the middle eight of the game. The last four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. For us to come out and finish the first half on a positive note and building a little bit of momentum. Early in the second half doing some great things as well was critical for our success in the game.
- Browns: You would receive the kick to start the second half. Your quarterback Joe Malchesky would lead the team downfield for a nine-play, 79-yard drive – culminating with a 44-yard touchdown run to take your first lead of the game. Tell us what happened on this play.
Coach: It's a boot pass, play action boot to the right side of the field. Designed for a pass to go to the right side of the field. But what's so great about having great players like Joe, he can kind of take a broken play and make it into something special. All of our players continued to block down the field and play hard the entire play. And what's so fun about having Joe, at halftime when we're down and we're struggling in a game, he's always the strongest – he not only wants to stand up in front of the team and let them know that he's going to be there, he also proves it with his game. This is exactly what that is, that's leadership at its finest. Joe did a tremendous job of finishing that drive out there when we needed it in a big way.
- Browns: Your defense would force a quick three-and-out, and your offense was back in business with a quick strike to put your team up 21-29 in the third quarter.
- Browns: On the second play of the next drive, your defense would score on a 25-yard interception return. Tell us what happened on this play.
Coach: Second and ten, they were behind the chains, we're thinking they might throw the ball. So, we get into an odd front, drop a defensive end into coverage. Jacob Owens was a cornerback his freshman year, bulked up and became a defensive lineman for us his senior year. Got him into some coverage. He was able to use his freshman year cornerback skills. He's just a weak/hook defender and he does a job seeing the quarterback, like we tell him to do and he then makes a great break on the ball – the rest is history.
He asked us if he could go back to cornerback after the game, I made sure he knew he was going to go back to doing what he does back down there in the trenches (laughter). This was definitely a play where you couldn't help but smile. He's the type of kid that draws other people around him. He earned making the play by his preparation. That's the great thing about being around high school football.
- Browns: That was three quick scores, the momentum was clearly on your side. What was the feeling on the sideline?
Coach: Like I said, it was probably the only time I smiled the entire game after this play. We talk about being the best we can be for 48 minutes and it's good to get excited, but when the ball is kicked off on the next play, we need to refocus and continue to focus on playing 48 great minutes of football. That's something that we were not able to do Friday night, but we can teach from, the kids can learn from. They are embracing. There is a learning lesson there. There are layers to the game of football. As we got throughout our season, we are going to keep doing that on a week-to-week basis.
- Browns: Both teams had zero quit in them. You both would battle the rest of the night. You would end up with the victory on the road 42-35. Congratulations on that win.
Coach: Thank you, I appreciate it. I appreciate all you guys are doing. It's fun to be recognized as a program. Our kids were fired up!
- Great game, coach! We appreciate you spending time with us today on the third episode of "Cleveland Browns Inside the Hudl"
- Thank you, and good luck the rest of the way!